The central role of dramatic irony in this excellent short story functions in the way that George and Hazel are not aware of what they are watching on TV but the audience is. The irony in this becomes particularly poignant when George returns to the television, having missed watching his son being brutally executed, to find his wife crying. However, her "average" intelligence means that she is unable to remember why she is actually crying:
"I forget," she said. "Something real sad on television... It's all kind of mixed up in my mind," said Hazel.
We of course know precisely what it is that has made Hazel so upset, but Hazel and George, because of the world in which they live, are doomed to never know and to stay like that for the rest of their lives. The tragedy of their son and the way that his brilliant life was extinguished will never be known by them, and they will be left to follow their average lives until they die.